Argentina court jails two in landmark femicide retrial

FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator wearing an orange handkerchief, symbolizing the separation of church and state, as face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) holds a placard that reads "Legal Abortion Now", during a protest against violence towards women on the 5th anniversary of the "Ni Una Menos" movement, outside the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, in Buenos Aires, Argentina June 3, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - An Argentina court on Thursday convicted two men for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Lucia Perez in 2016, a case that has become emblematic of a movement to fight back against violence against women and girls in the region.

Perez's murder in Mar del Plata ignited widespread anger in Argentina, becoming a symbol of the Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) movement to demand action on femicide. The movement began in Argentina in 2015 and has spread through Latin America, where at least 4,473 women were murdered in 2021, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Matias Farias was convicted Thursday to life in prison for sexual abuse, supplying narcotics, and femicide. The court determined Juan Pablo Offidani was an accessory to the crime and sentenced him to eight years.

In November 2018, the two men were convicted for drug dealing but the rape and femicide charges were thrown out because judges determined that it could not be established whether or not there had been consent.

The ruling caused outrage, and was annulled in 2020 by an appeals court for "lack of gender perspective" and "incompatibility" with international human rights law.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez visited Perez's family on International Women's Day this year. On Twitter, he called for justice in the case and criticized the Argentine justice system for what he called a lack of gender perspective in the previous trial.

"In the name of all of the other girls who we are also missing, we are not going to permit impunity," Fernandez said in a tweet.

(Reporting by Anna-Catherine Brigida, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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